ITV drama Breathtaking provokes strong reaction from viewers

joanne froggatt as abbey, breathtaking
ITV's Breathtaking provokes strong viewer reactionITV

New ITV drama Breathtaking has provoked a strong reaction from viewers after its first episode premiered last night (February 19).

The new series follows health workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic and is adapted from Rachel Clarke's memoir of the same name, with Line of Duty's Jed Mercurio and Clarke herself among the team of writers.

The traumatic conditions are seen through the eyes of Acute Medicine Consultant Dr Abbey Henderson (Joanne Froggatt).

joanne froggatt as abbey, breathtaking
nick wall - ITV

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Many have taken to social media to share their reactions to the series following its premiere, notably from those who experienced the pandemic on the front lines as they shared their own stories.

"In February 2020, I contracted COVID-19 whilst working at A&E at Northwick Park," wrote Dr Vinay Raniga alongside a picture from that time. "In March 2020, I was redeployed to the ICU frontline to save lives. I lived out of a Holiday Inn for 4 months, working 12-hour shifts. It was traumatic but an honour to serve."

"Throwback to March & April 2020 in the first lockdown due to Covid-19 surges," added Dr Ajay M Verma in another post. "A really challenging & frightening time. My wife & I completed our wills in April 2020. My #Breathtaking moments."

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"Not tonight, maybe not tomorrow, not sure I will…but seeing a lot of people watching #BREATHTAKING tonight," wrote nurse Kirstie alongside a photo of her reddened face after taking protective equipment off.

"This photo breaks my heart, the sadness and exhaustion in my eyes. I still recall the pain on my face. I think often of the patients I cared for the scenarios I experienced.

"The emotions in those eyes still haunt me as I embark on another round of therapy. I’ve never been the same since. Not quite."

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Another viewer shared a picture of her mother from the frontlines, writing: "This is my mum. She worked throughout Covid-19 on her intensive care unit.

"While she told me stories, I don’t think I really understood the depth of the trauma happening until watching #BREATHTAKING. My mum and her fellow NHS workers are quite simply heroes."

Breathtaking airs on ITV1 until Wednesday, February 21. It is also available to stream on ITVX.

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